Publisher’s Perspective: My Big Gay Online Oscar Party

By : Tom Dyer
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TomDyerHeadshotUntil my thirties I lived in a state of high alert.

At the community pool, in high school gym class, in my fraternity house, even out in public or on television, notice of handsome men was furtive and with a practiced air of coincidence. Incriminating books, magazines or videocassettes were hidden away. In 1982, I drove across town to see Making Love so that I’d avoid running into anyone I knew.

As I slowly came out, I monitored my coffee table and bookcases, shifting items around for straight friends, family, and especially visiting children. As I made gay friends and grew more comfortable expressing my sexuality, the deception just got more complicated.
Like an affair, it was exhausting. But I wasn’t hiding a mistress; I was suppressing my nature selectively.

I’ve proudly published Watermark for the past 18 years, so this burdensome duplicity has long been a thing of the past. But watching the Academy Awards, I was reminded of it in a most unexpected and amusing way.

I usually go to a viewing party attended by gay friends with big gay opinions. This year I missed my mom and decided to watch with her. But as Seth McFarlane got deeper into his risky opening monologue I missed my friends’ colorful commentary. So I logged onto Facebook and discovered a big gay-friendly Oscar party online.

Present were local comedians Doug Bowser and Jeff Jones, Watermark film critic Stephen Miller, Orlando Weekly columnist Billy Manes and former Orlando Sentinel contributors Dean Johnson and Scott Joseph, hair stylist and fundraiser Gary Lambert, therapist Vicki O’Grady and hundreds more. And their posts elicited comments from around the country, and from the likes of drag icon Varla Jean Merman.

Some thought McFarlane was charming and hilarious:
I’ve already laughed out loud 20 times! One posted early into his opening monologue.

Others disagreed, un-mollified even when McFarlane directed the Los Angeles Gay Men’s Chorus from the Dolby Theatre stage:
One tone-deaf, misogynist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, humorless, mortifying gaffe after another send the kids to bed.Worst. Host. Ever… including Letterman!

The very existence of Seth McFarlane makes me want to turn off everything.

(Opinions have to be strong to get noticed on Facebook.)

Many thought McFarlane hit a low point when he serenaded Oscar-winning actresses with We Saw Your Boobs, a juvenile number that would have worked better on his Family Guy animated series. Ironically, a series of women- Dame Shirley Bassey, Catherine Zeta Jones, Jennifer Hudson, Adele, Barbra Streisand, winners Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Lawrence, and First Lady Michelle Obama gave the broadcast its most memorable moments.

The fabulous Facebook party took note:
Dame Shirley Bassey singing “Goldfinger’ and giving everyone a lesson on how to take the stage.  I’m plotzing!!! Too bad the cast of Les Miz had to go on after Jennifer Hudson diva on deck!
A rasp in the voice, a breathiness, a little less control, and suddenly “The Way We Were’ has a heartbreaking new meaning. FLOTUS wins best dress!

Of course, some of the best comments were also the bitchiest:
John Travolta the next Dracula. Kristin Chenoweth looks like a snack for Queen Latifah. Gurrlhh! You look like a Goth Christmas tree topper. Hire a gay stylist and lose the control cause it ain’t working.
Renee Zellweger styled in a drunk sweat.
Maybe now Anne Hathaway can afford some food.
And my favorite, posted during Hathaway’s predictably overwrought acceptance speech:
Are there lots of women getting kicked out of fabric factories and into lives as prostitutes? To which someone responded, Only in Kissimmee.

During the tribute to musicals, one straight ally announced her presence at the Facebook party with a question:
My husband figures all my gay friends will know are the singers lip-synching or not?

I shared an opinion, as I had throughout the evening. But the extent to which others might be monitoring the party didn’t fully occur to me until I weighed in during the tribute to James Bond:
Sean Connery sexiest man ever, I typed as images of the handsome, hairy-chested Scot flashed by on the television screen.
Almost immediately there were a dozen or so comments and many more likes. Among them were distant cousins and several long-lost friends from high school, college and law school, including a girl I dated. I haven’t spoken to most in years, and never came out to any of them.

I’m no expert on the mechanics of Facebook, but I’m pretty sure that every time I liked or commented on anything throughout the Oscar telecast, these innocent interlopers were dropping into my online Oscar party and making acquaintance with all the colorful attendees.

After a moment’s consideration, I simply laughed. And I realized this kind of transparency can only be a good thing. There’s no moving the latest issue of The Advocate, or driving across town, in the online world.

Facebook lets you create different groups for different communications and with different access. But why would I? Too exhausting.

And too liberating.

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